Many members of the Malaspina House were influential persons, who distinghuished themselves in different ways throughout Italy and Europe, from the Middle-Ages until modern history...

ALESSANDRO MALASPINA (1754-1810)

Alessandro was born at Mulazzo, Tuscany, on November 5th, 1754. He was the son of Carlo Morela Malaspina, marquess of Mulazo, and of Caterina Meli Lupi de Soragna, niece of the viceroy of Sicily Giovanni Fogliani Sforza.

He grew up in Palermo with his great-uncle and eventually went to Rome in 1765 to study at Pio Clementino School. In 1773, once his education completed, he joined the Order of Malta. He stayed on the island for one year, during which he learnt the art of navigation, before following his uncle to the Court of Spain. In 1774, he joined the Spanish Royal Naval Academy in Cadiz as a sailor guard. In 1775-1776, he took part into several operations on the Mediterranean sea (sieges of Melilla and Alger). He was eventually sent on exploration and trade missions which led him three times to the Philippines between 1777 and 1788. He rapidly climbed the ladder of the Spanish Navy,  winning fame on the different seas of the globe and during the siege of Gibraltar against the English in 1780.

Together with his friend Jose de Bustamante y Guerra, he then proposed to King Charles III to lead a political and scientific expedition throughout the whole territory belonging to the Spanish EmpireAccording to the Enlightenment Spirit, the expedition's main goal was to assess the populations and resources of the Spanish Empire in order to have a full knowledge of their extent.  Alessandro worked with numerous European scientists to get ready for his expedition. They eventually embarked upon two frigates, the Atrevida and the Descubierta. After a fifty-two-day-journey, the two ships arrived off the Montevideo coast on September 20th. They sailed along the South-American coasts and eventually passed the Cape Horn and sailed up to the Mexican coasts where they split. Once in Panama harbour, Alessandro studied the possibility of a canal which would be a shortcut between the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. He eventually resumed his exploration of the American coasts, searching for a route from the north-west which would allow to reach the Atlantic ocean through the islands of Canada Great North. He did not succeed more than James Cook before him, and this route was finally discovered by Roald Amundsen in 1906.

Once in Alaska, he made a stop on Vancouver island, where he signed a friendship treaty with the natives. The two frigates sailed together again through the Pacific Ocean, exploring the Marshall Islands, the Marianas and eventually the Philippines, Macao, New-Zealand and Sydney, before crossing back the ocean. After passing the Cape Horn again, they sailed back to Cadiz on September 21st, 1794. Malaspina was back to Spain with an amount of knowledge never gathered before. Cartographers, botanists, naturalists, astronomers had indeed amassed new information galore, thanks to their meeting native people and local political and scientific leaders. New maps, new sketches and collections of plant and mineral species were exhibited, and the information gathered during each stop of their expedition allowed to know the populations of the Empire better. Thanks to this latest information galore, the king was shown the Empire through different goggles, from the description of the populations to the economical resources and the inventory of all the belongings of the Spanish colonies. Heart and soul of the expedition, Alessandro Malaspina had granted a great freedom of action to the scientists and artists who accompanied him.In December, Alessandro was received at the Escorial by King Charles IV, who appointed him sergeant a few months later. The navigator eventually presented a confidential political report (Viaje político-científico alrededor del Mundo, 1794), in which he developed his views about the management of the Empire and criticised it in order to allow the renovation of an old-fashioned colonial organisation.  Among others, he advised to grant the colonies a larger autonomy and, following the British pattern, he advocated the building of a vast confederation of States enjoying trade agreements. He also put forward a larger religious tolerance and the reorganisation of the administration, which he considered too heavy and corrupt. However, this smart and enlightened reformism brought worries, suspicion and schemes. In November, 1795, Alessandro Malaspina was accused by Manuel Godoy, Charles IV's Prime Minister, of being a revolutionary and of plotting against the crown. Convicted, he got sentenced to ten years' imprisonment at the Castle of San Anton, at la Coruña. This sentence obliged his partners to adjourn their works for several years. While in prison, he wrote several essays of economics and aesthetics, as well as literary reviews.

Released in 1802 under Napoleon's pressure, he went back to his native land, where he dealt with local political matters. In 1805, he became a member of the Council of State of the Kingdom of Italy, founded that same year by Napoleon. He was entrusted the task of organising a cordon sanitaire between the Kingdom of Italy and that of Etrury, where Livorno was going through a yellow fever outbreak. Alessandro Malaspina died at Pontremoli, near Mulazzo where he was born, in April 1810. A glacier in Alaska, as well as a strait and a peninsula in British Columbia were named after the famous navigator.

CORRADO MALASPINA ( + 1253)

Obizzo grand-son, Corrado, called “l'Antico” (“the Old Man”), sung by Dante in the Purgatory, Song VIII, is a major figure in the history of the Malaspina family.


Indeed, in 1221, together with his cousin Obizzino, he undertook the sharing of their grand-father's immense estate. Corrado eventually became the head of the Spino Secco and he got the territories located on the right bank in Magra valley in Lunigiane, as well as the fiefs of Aveto, Trebbia and Borbera valleys. Mulazzo became the main city of this vast territory and Corrado kept his family's emblem of the Spino Secco.

OBIZZO MALASPINA ( + 1185)

Son of the marquess Alberto, who was the first one to bear the name of Malaspina, Obizzo won fame in the XIIth century by joining many battles in Italy and through his relationship with the emperor Federico de Barbarossa.

At first a rival to the emperor, Obizzo had fought with the Lombard cities for their independence in exchange of an outlet on the Mediterranean sea. Together with the Lombard League, he joined several battles, among others the famous one at Tortone in 1155, where he bravely resisted the emperor. Yet in 1164, he changed sides and got closer to Federico, who eventually granted him many fiefs in Lunigiane, Emilia, Lombardy and Piedmont. When, on his way back to Rome, the emperor was stopped by the Italian cities, Obizzo flew to his assistance and escorted him through the Aveto, Trebbia and Staffora valleys, hosting him for some time at Oramala Castle.

A few years later, Obizzo drew closer to the Lombard cities again and fought against the emperor at the battle of Legnano in 1175. In 1183, he also took part into Constance Peace, which celebrated the final victory of the cities and the acknowledgement of their kingly powers as well as their freedom in the city dealings. Obizzo died in 1185, leaving three children behind him: Obizzo and Moroello, whose descendants shared their immense estate a few decades later, and Alberto, who won fame in the field of the Arts, mainly poetry.

ANNA MALASPINA DELLA BASTIA (1727-1797)

Anna Maria, “Annetta” Malaspina was born in Sienna on Nov. 28th, 1727. She was the daughter of Giovan Cristoforo Malaspina de Mulazzo and of Dejanira Malaspina de Podenzana. In 1751, she married Giovanni Malaspina della Bastia, a gentleman at the court of Don Felipe de Bourbon, Duke of Parma and son of Elizabeth Farnese and Philip V of Spain.

Parma court was much reputed at the time, mainly through the links between the Duke and the  largest European courts and thanks to the ducal couple's enlightened education. Parma was then considered as a “little Paris” or else “the Italian Athens”. One could meet a lot of artists there, as well as nearly four thousand French people, under Guillaume du Tillot's authority, Prime Minister and a Frenchman too.

Thanks to the nobility of her house, Anna Maria was appointed lady-in-waiting to Duchess Louise Elizabeth, Louis XV's eldest daughter. A very influential person by the court, the marchioness took part in the numerous literary and mundane events and accompanied Duchess Louise Elizabeth to Versailles several times, where they stayed from 1757 to 1760. At Louis XV's court, Anna Maria Malaspina even became a rival to the Marchioness of Pompadour, the king's official favourite. At the same time, her brother Cesare was chamberlain to Grand Duke Peter Leopold of Tuscany.

 
In 1765, the marchioness accompanied Princess Louise Marie to Genoa during her trip to Spain, where she was going in order to marry the prince of the Asturias, who would become Charles IV of Spain.

After the dismissal of Du Tillot, her protector and friend, and the arrival in Parma of Duchess Marie Amelie, daughter of Empress Marie Therese, Anna Maria managed to keep her influence by the court for some time. Yet, because of the new duchess's enmity, discernible in spite of the empress's remonstrance, she had to withdraw at the beginning of the 1770s'.

Many artists kept praising her beauty and her qualities up to her death in 1797.

BARTOLOMEO PACCA (1756 -1844)

Son of Horacio Pacca, marquess of Matrice, and of Cristina Malaspina d'Olivola, Bartolomeo Pacca was educated by the Jesuits in Naples. He eventually joined Clementino School in Rome, before getting into the Ecclesiastic Academy of Rome in 1778. He was close to Pius VI, who made him his secret chamberlain on May 31st, 1785, before appointing him archbishop of  Damietta and apostolic nuncio in Cologne. Bartolomeo stayed in Germany until 1794, then he officiated as apostolic nuncio by the court of Portugal from 1795 to 1802. Close to Prince Dom João and the royal family, he preserved the influence of the Church in this country when all Europe was troubled by the French Revolution and the war.

Pius VII eventually appointed him cardinal and Bartolomeo went back to Rome, from where he strived for the protection of the belongings and the rights of the Church in France. On the orders of Napoleon, he was abducted in Rome with Pius VII in 1809. Transferred together to Grenoble, the two men were eventually separated and put in jail. Bartolomeo was imprisoned in Piedmont, at Fenestrelle Fortress, the largest in Europe (1 300 000m²) where he remained prisoner for three years and a half.

In 1813, Pius VII, while negotiating a concordat with Napoleon, put pressure so that the Cardinal be freed and the two men met again at Fontainebleau in February. Together, they went back to Rome the following year and Bartolomeo was appointed pro-secretary of State and Finance Minister of the pontifical State. He had Tite triumphal arch refurbished at that time.

Up to the end of his life, he fulfilled important tasks: pro-datary of His Holiness, eventually bishop of Ostia and finally archpriest of Saint John Lateran, he was also a close collaborator to Popes Leo XII, Pius VIII and Gregory XVI. This clergyman had a great impact on his times and the history of the Church as an ardent fighter for the rights of the Church in a troubled period. His last speech, performed in 1843 at the Rome Academy of Catholic Religion and dealing with the current state and the future destiny of the Catholic Church, had a particularly strong impact.

He died in Rome a few months later, in 1844.

His works:

Memorie storiche della nunziatura di Colonia Dei grandi meriti verso la Chiesa Cattolica del clero dell' Universita e de' Magistrati di Colonia nel secolo XVI
Memorie storiche del ministero de' due viaggi in Francia e della prigionia nel Forte di San Carlo in Fenestrelles.
Notizie sul Portogallo e sulla nunziatura di Lisbona
Memorie storiche per servire alla storia ecclesiastica del secolo XIX (1809-1814)
Notizie storiche intorno alla vita e gli scritti di Mons. Franc. Pacca, arcivescovo di Benevento (1752-1775).
Cardinal Pacca's Historical Memoirs on ecclesiastical matters in Germany and Portugal during his nunciature.

THE MALASPINA BISHOPS OF LUNI

Luni was a major bishopric of Northern Italy in the Middle-Ages. As far back as the Dark Ages, Charlemagne granted the bishops privileges, reaffirmed in year 900 by King Berenger II of Italy, who appointed Oberto I marquess of Luni in 940. This latter managed to enlarge his estate as widely as from Carrare to Tortona and Genoa. This territory became the eastern March of Liguria, which included a portion of Tuscany, Parma and Piacenzia.

In 963, his son Adalberto added new possessions to their estate, among which Sarzana. The bishopric of Luni increased its power in the XIth century through the building and development of the Francigene road, which the pilgrims coming from all over Europe took to go to Rome.

Because of the divisions between the various branches descending from Oberto (the Pallavicini, Massa Corsica, Malaspina, Este …) combined to the disappearance of a strong central government, the bishopric of Luni lost a part of its influence, isolated among more powerful fiefs and expanding cities.

At Luni, the bishops took over the position vacated by Oberto's descendants, who had left to lead other battles. But the bishops did not really achieve a leadership on the political scene of Northern Italy. Besides, the population left  the bishopric to settle in Sarzana. So did the bishops, though they went on bearing the title of bishops or counts of Luni.

The fight between the bishops and their neighbours the marquesses of Malaspina lasted for several decades. It was completely ended in 1306 only, with Castelnuovo Peace, signed by Dante on behalf of the marquesses.

The peace back again, the clergy decided to grant a bishopric to a member of the powerful family and Gherardino Malaspina, son of a marquess from the House of the Spino Fiorito, was appointed bishop in 1312. Thanks to this appointment, the bishops intended to earn the protection of the powerful Malaspina marquesses to resist Pisa and Lucca pressures.

Yet Gherardino was not able to compete with Castruccio Castracani, viscount of Lucca, who got hold of Luni and Sarzana. Gherardino eventually gave up Sarzana and died in 1318.

BERNABO MALASPINA

His cousin Bernabo succeeded him. Before that, he had been a canon at Genoa Cathedral (1302). A short time later, he confirmed Castruccio Castracani in his possessions in exchange of the sharing of the benefits from the tolls and the bishopric output, agreement which lasted until the condottiere's death in 1328. That same year, taking advantage of the weakening of Lucca county, the diocese powerful neighbours tried to retrieve a portion of the territory. Bernabo joined this new war, beside his cousin Spinetta Il Grande, the Della Scalas from Verona, the Viscontis and the Florentines. He defeated the Pisans, who left Massa and Avenza, and he entered Sarzana in 1335. He took possession of Massa the following year.

Bernabo died on August 5th, 1338 and he was buried in San Francesco church at Sarzana. An epitaph, still visible on the gravestone inside the church reads:  Sobrius et lenis, castus , misurator egenis ; Compatiens mestis et moribus aptus honestis. 

In 1351, another member of the Malaspina family was appointed bishop of Luni by Clement IV: Gabriele, son of Azzolino II, marquess of Fosdinovo, brother of Spinetta Il Grande and Bernabo, the archbishop of Pisa. Four years later, the emperor Charles IV confirmed him as bishop-count of Luni and also appointed him prince of the Holy Roman Empire.

In 1353, guelphs and ghibellines called on him to prepare the peace between the two parties, a task doomed to failure due to too strong a disagreement between the two factions.  He eventually devoted himself to his holy mission. He gave up any political, material or territorial vindication and dedicated himself to the management of the bishopric from Sarzana. Thanks to his great honesty, his uncle Spinetta Il Grande appointed him as his executor.

GALEOTTO MALASPINA

Son of Azzolino II, marquess of Fosdinovo and nephew of Spinetta Il Grande, Galeotto and his brother  inherited their uncle's fief, as he died without any descendants. He lived in Verona, where he studied law. He eventually became an eminent judge of the City and married the noble Genoese Argentina Grimaldi.

He was the first marquess to settle at Fosdinovo, acquired a few years earlier by his uncle Spinetta. Erected in 1367, his monument is located in Saint Remy church at Fosdinovo. It depicts Saint John, Saint Peter and Paul, then again Saint John introducing the knight to Jesus and the Virgin.

LUIGI MALASPINA DI SANNAZZARO (1754-1834)

Luigi Malaspina di Sannazzaro, nobleman from Pavia, was a chamberlain of the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire at the end of the XVIIIth century.

During his youth, Luigi Malaspina travelled all around Italy and stayed in France, England and Germany. When he went back to Italy, the emperor Joseph II asked him to administer Pavia hospital, which became an example for the whole of Italy. He eventually became a royal delegate of the University.

During the French invasion, he left Pavia but he retrieved his fief after the defeat of Napoleon's troops. He eventually joined the Congress of Vienna as a representative of Pavia for the negotiations about the redrawing of Italy. On February 12th, 1816, at the imperial palace of Milan, he was decorated with the Order of the Iron Crown by Franz I, first emperor of Austria.

Further to his stay in Vienna, he went back to Pavia. An art and architecture lover, he published a catalogue showing his engraving collection. He also commissioned, drew the plans and paid for a palace where Art was taught. When he died, he left behind him a large number of paintings, estampes and engravings gathered during his stays in Milan and in Germany, which formed one of the most precious collections in Italy in the first half of the XIXth century. It is now kept in the Malaspina Art gallery at Pavia.

In the course of his life, Luigi Malaspina published many writings:
- Delle Leggi Del Bello Applicate Alla Pittura Ed Architettura Saggio 1791
- Osservazioni sugli spedali, sugli Stabilimenti di Beneficenza e su differenti caratteri delle inclinazioni e delle passioni, Pavie, 1793
- Memorie storiche della fabrica della catedrale di Pavia, Milan, 1816
- Guida di Pavia, Pavie, 1819
- Cenni di pubblica economia relativa all’industria e riccheza delle nazioni, Milan, 1820
- Catalogo di una raccolta di stampe antiche, Milan, 1824, 2 volumes.
- Memoria sugli apparenti caratteri delle inclinazioni e passioni, Milan, 1826
- Cenni sulla mitologia egizia, 1828
- Saggio sulle leggi del bello applicate alla pittura ed architettura, Milan, 1828
- Inscrizioni lapidarie, Milan, 1830
- Elementi tratti delle piu accredidate opere per la fabbricazione dei vini, Milan 1831
- Quadro storico della greca architettura, Milan, 1831
- Lettera intorno alla cattedrale di Pavia, Milan, 1832 
- Elenco di Idoli egizi, Milan, 1832
- Memoria intorno alle diramazioni dei popoli sulla superficie del globo, e singolramente in Italia, Milan, 1834
- Relazione di un viaggio in varie province d’Europa
- Descrizione della Certosa di Pavia

MARCELLO MALASPINA (1689-1757)

Marcello Malaspina, son of Manfredi II, marquess of Filatierra, was born in 1689. After studying at Pisa, he went to Rome. General auditor at Sienna, he sat at the Council of the Nine Conservatives and was elected senator of Florence in 1721. He died in 1757.